13. ARISTOTLE: FOOTNOTES2 passinge, surpassingly; phesyk, medicine.
3 ayel, uncle.
4 nygh, near.
5 lynage, lineage.
9 rethoryk, rhetoric.
11 sciencis, i.e., courses of study.
15 covenable, appropriate; connynge, cleverness.
16 teche, teach.
17 lesynges, lies.
19 merveylled, marveled; ameved, moved.
20 openyoun, opinion; susteene gramaryens, sustain grammarians.
21 rethorycyenes, rhetoricians; himself, itself.
23 wole, will.
24 prerogatyf, prerogative.
26 rightwos, righteous.
31 empechemente, accusation; unparfytely, imperfectly.
32 lesyth, loses; defaute, error.
33 etyque, ethics.
34 of2, from.
35 terroyre, territory.
36 Cecillé, Sicily.
40 decesse, death.
42 Dayse, Dacia.
44 appeched, accused; cetezeyns, citizens.
45 dede, did.
49 venyme, venom.
50 repreved, criticized.
54 gefe, give; orphelynes, orphans.
55 luste, desire.
59 boonys, bones.
60 here, their; weel, welfare.
66 here, their; hoope, hope.
71 to, as.
73 tyques, ethics; polletyques, politics; metaphesyk, metaphysics.
74 Detheologye, On Theology; engynes, formulas.
79 mannys, man's.
80 sothely, truly.
81 proufyte, profit.
83 lasse, less.
86 sterres, stars.
92 ellis, else.
93 seeke leche, sick leech (physician).
94 nedys, needs.
96 covetyses, coveted things.
97 lowable, allowable.
102 dysworshippynge, denouncing.
105 ellis, otherwise.
110 erre, err.
111-12 empeche, impeach (hinder).
114 here, their.
115 recche, suppose; here, their.
118 reyne, rain; medled, mingled.
119 see, sea.
123 sewen, pursue.
126 dyspreyse, denounce.
128 to moche, too many.
135 besynesses, business.
138 parceyve, perceive.
139 wenyste, suppose; Lyberalté, Generosity.
141 meetely, fitting.
145 fundacioun, foundation.
149 bataile, battle.
152 sureté, surety.
153 mayntened, maintained; encresed, increased.
154 seweth, pursues.
156 curteys, courteous.
158 leve, live.
163 leste, least.
167 petevous, merciful.
169 dyfferrynge, differing.
171 statis, states.
173 Stablysshe, Establish.
176 Worship, Honor.
177 entente, intent.
179 her dispence, their expenses.
187 quyte, quit (leave).
192 deye, die; lefe, live.
197 rightwosly, righteously.
199 nys not, is not.
200 raptour, thief.
204 pystel, letter.
208 defaute, error.
209 here, their.
211 vengeably, vengefully.
217 here, their.
228 eeres, ears.
234 beere, bear.
238 chese, choose.
239 enherytaunce, inheritance.
241 lyfelode, livelihood.
248 encrece, increase.
262 leve wele, live well.
269 her, their.
270 unneth, inadequately.
275 ableth, enables.
277 and, if.
284 seeke, sick.
285 phesycyan, physician.
291 her, their.
298 cheertee, esteem.
299 dere, dearly.
301 bultynge cloth, cloth used for sifting flour; meele, meal.
302 branne, bran.
305 to vengeable, too vengeful.
307 here, their.
314 verrey, veritable.
319 wele attempred, temperate/moderate.
320-21 ambycious, ambitious.
324 ferre, far.
326-27 sheete aferre at a marke, to shoot at a distant target.
329 erren, err; her, their.
342 here, their.
345 dombe beestis, dumb beasts.
351 deed, dead.
352 enformacion, information.
360 seure, sure (safe).
364 purveied, provided.
371 parfite, perfect.
378 lowely, humble.
384 dyches, ditches.
13. ARISTOTLE: EXPLANATORY NOTESABBREVIATIONS: B = Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Bühler (1941); CA = Gower's Confessio Amantis; CT = Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; G = Pierpont Morgan Library MS G.66; MED = Middle English Dictionary; OED = Oxford English Dictionary; S = Scrope, Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Schofield (1936).
These explanatory notes cannot hope to provide a complete accounting for the source of every proverbial statement in Dicts and Sayings. That task would be a separate book in its own right. Instead, I have attempted to contextualize this rather heterogeneous body of lore by identifying the people and places named in the text, as well as noting points that may be of interest to students and general readers. Those interested in tracing the source of particular quotations should begin by consulting Whiting's Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500. Readers are also invited to consult the thorough notes to Knust's Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the original Arabic ancestor of Dicts and Sayings.
1 Aristotle (384-322 BC) was one of the most influential philosophers in the history of Western civilization. His voluminous writings cover not just philosophy, but science, poetry, and virtually every subject imaginable. Aristotle began his career as a student at the Academy under Plato, and later was a tutor of Alexander the Great. For another medieval account of Aristotle's life and teachings, see Higden's version (Polychronicon, ed. Lumby, vol. 3, pp. 358-72). When Chaucer speaks of "the philosopher" he means Aristotle, but perhaps the greatest literary tribute to Aristotle in English is Book 7 of Gower's Confession Amantis, on the education of the king. This part of the Confessio - as well as the Aristotle section of Dicts and Sayings - is based upon The Secret of Secrets, an originally Arabic text that enjoyed widespread circulation in Europe. Spuriously attributed to Aristotle, Secretum (or Secreta) Secretorum (The Secret of Secrets), or Sirr al-asrâr as it was first known in Arabic, purports to be the philosopher's letter of advice to Alexander. The best study of the Secret tradition is Williams' Secret of Secrets. Williams explains that Secret was probably based on some genuinely Aristotelian materials and then expanded:
Translated from Greek into Arabic probably in the eighth century, the base text was taken up by an unknown compiler . . . in the middle to late ninth or early tenth century and turned into a Mirror for Princes in seven or eight books . . . A succession of revisers working over the next two hundred years added bits and pieces to this primitive SS, transforming a speculum principis into a compendium of general information useful for a prince but usable by just about anyone. (Secret of Secrets, p. 30)The work was extremely popular in Europe by the early fourteenth century; for the Middle English versions, see Secretum Secretorum: Nine English Versions, ed. Manzalaoui.
2 Mecynachus. This is Nichomachus, the father of Aristotle and physician to the Macedonian King Amyntas II.
3 Kinge Alysaundres. See the explanatory note for Alexander, line 1.
4 Stragyre. Stagira, the birthplace of Aristotle.
5 Esculapyus. See the explanatory note for Zalquaquine, line 1.
13Pyctagoras. See the explanatory note for Pythagoras, line 1.
Pychoras. This may be Epicurus (341-270 BC), the Greek philosopher who taught that people should devote their lives to pleasure, which he defined as serenity - not the carnality or gluttony that has become associated with the word Epicurean today.
35 Lopedimie. Plato's center of learning was the Academy in Athens. The name Lopedimie seems to suggest the small region of Epidauria, in which the chief community, Epidaurus, was home to a famous healing center and cult of Aesculapius.
38 Kinge Phelyp. Philip II (382-336 BC) of Macedonia is best known today as the father of Alexander the Great (see the explanatory note for Alexander, line 1), but he was a cunning warlord in his own right, and his strengthening of the Macedonian army paved the way for his son's conquests. For another medieval account of the life of Philip, see Higden, cap. XXVI (ed. Lumby, pp. 382-90).
49-50 wheron he deyed. In reality Aristotle died in Chalcis, not Stagira.
58 he deyed in the sixty-fouth yere. In the Spanish Bocados de Oro (the first translation of Dicts and Sayings from its Arabic original), the philosopher is said to have died at 68: "sesenta e ocho" (ed. Knust, p. 246), while the Latin translation of the Spanish has 63: "anno LXIII" (ed. Francheschini, p. 490).
74 Detheologye. Presumably this is Aristotle's Metaphysics.
98 this worlde is but an hous of passage for to go into anothir. See the note to Socrates, line 180.
107-08 Loke thu do to no man othirwise thanne thu woldeste he dede to thee. The Golden Rule again. See Whiting D274.
191-92 It is bettir to deye worshipfully thanne for to lefe in shame. Death before dishonor is a central tenet of the classical and early medieval heroic ethos. See the note to Plato, lines 329-31.
242-43 The tunge of a foole is the keye of his secretes. For other manifestations of this maxim, see Whiting F413.
279 Abraquis. I have been unable to ascertain his identity.
383-87 Note the role that money plays in this social hierarchy. Surprisingly, perhaps, this is not an interpolation of late medieval protocapitalism. In the Spanish Bocados de Oro, money ("el haver") plays the same role as in the later English translation: "el rrey es pastor, e mantienese por la caballeria, e la caballeria [gobiernase por] el haver, e el haver [ayuntase] del pueblo, e el pueblo es siervo de la justicia, e por la justicia endereçase el mundo" (ed. Knust, p. 276). The later Liber Philosophorum Moralium Antiquorum provides the same sentiment: "leges rex statuit; rex vero per miliciam manutenetur; milicia vero pecunia gubernatur; pecunia autem a populo colligitir; populus vero est iusticie servus; iusticia vero regitur mundus" (ed. Francheschini, p. 508). Like much of the Aristotle section, the ultimate source of this passage is The Secret of Secrets. I quote from an English translation of the text that is contemporaneous with the English versions of Dicts and Sayings: "The kyng is þe pastour that is defended by his lordes and estates. His lordes ben stipendaries susteyned with moné. Money is fortune that is gadered of the subgettes. Subgettz ben seruauntes subiectes to Justice. Justice forsoth is that by himself intended, in the which is the helth of subgettes" (the "Ashmole" version, Secretum Secretorum, ed. Manzalaoui, p. 71).
13. ARISTOTLE: TEXTUAL NOTES54 to1. I follow B in adding.
85 gladly. I follow B in emending from G's glally.
87 grace. So G. B reads graces.
128 counsell. G: sell written below the line, this being the end of the MS page.
190 to. G: word added above the line.
219 for1. My addition.
276 And. G: A is missing.
[fol. 35v] Aristotle is as moche to seye in the language of Greeke as "fulfilled of bountees";
and his fadir was named Mecynachus, and was a passinge wise man in phesyk, and
was a phesycian to Kinge Alysaundres ayel. And the seide Arystotle was borne in
a citee whiche was called Stragyre, and was as nygh of the fadir syde as of the
moder syde of the lynage of Esculapyus, of the whiche is made mencyon here-
tofore, whiche was the beste lynage of alle Grece. And whanne Arystotle was of the
age of eight yere, his fadir brought him to the cytee of Athenes, whiche at that
tyme was named the citee of wyse men. And there he made him for to lerne gramer
and rethoryk and the bookis of poetes. And there he studyed by the space of nine
yere and profyted gretely, for at that tyme somme men sette right moche by thees
sciencis aboveseide, and helde oppynyoun that thei were the ladder wherby men
myght clymbe up to alle othir sciences. And somme othir were wysemen at that
tyme as Pyctagoras, Pychoras, and many other, helde hem as for nothinge, and
mokked hem that lerned thes sciencis, seyenge that suche sciences as gramer,
rethoryk, and poetrye were nat covenable to gete any connynge where wysedam
was inne; and that gramere was noughte but for to teche children, and poetry for
to telle fables and compose lesynges, and rethoryk for to polysshe and make faire
his wordes and sette hem pleasauntly togeders. And whanne Aristotle herde thes
thinges, he merveylled gretely and was gretly ameved agenste hem that helden
suche openyoun, and enforced himself to his power for to susteene gramaryens,
the poetes, and the rethorycyenes. And seide that sapience myght nat excuse him-
self from the sciences aboveseide, lyke as resoun was the instrumente of sapience;
and it apperith openly, ho that wole knowe anything, he muste have it by reasoun,
for in that God hath geven a prerogatyf to man over alle othir beestis for the
moste worthiest, to that entente that amonge alle men he is holde moste noble and
most rightwos that useth reasoun, and he that moste covenably resceyveth in his
herte the derke thingis, and he that pronownceth hem in tyme and in place cov-
enable. And forasmeche as sapience is the moste noble of alle other thingis, it
shulde be shewed by the bettir reasoun and in the moste covenable maner, by
wordes most propre and as shorte as a man coude goodely shewe hem withoute
empechemente of errour, for yf a resoun be shewed unparfytely [fol. 36r] the name of sci-
ence lesyth and he that redes it is in defaute, and thanne the heerers bene in
doute. And whanne Aristotil had lerned the sciencis aboveseid, he lerned etyque
and the foure sciences of theologie. And lerned of Plato in a place whiche was
called Lopedimie in the terroyre of Athenes, and at that tyme Arystotle was seven-
tene yere of age. And whanne Plato wente the secunde tyme into Cecillé, he lefte
Arystotle in his place in the same towne of Lopedume in the whiche he lerned his
science. And aftir that Plato was dede. The Kinge Phelyp sente for Arystotle, the
whiche wente to him to Macedoyne and dwelled with him alle his lyfetyme, where
he shewed his grete connynge. And aftir the decesse of the seide Phelyp, the grete
Alysaundir his sone regned. Ande whanne Alysaundir departed from Macedoyne
for to go unto the regyoun of Dayse, Arystotle retourned agen into Athenes; and
there he abode ten yer, and there he studyed til he was a passinge sovereigne clerc.
And it happened for envye a preest appeched hym to the cetezeyns and tolde hem
that he worshipped nat the ydolles lyke as othir dede in that tyme, the whiche
thinge was shewed anon unto Arystotle; and sodeynly he departed and wente to a
town whiche was called Stragye, wherinne the seide Arystotle was borne: for he
douted that yf he had taryed any lenger in Athenes, thei wolde have done by him
as thei dede by Socrates, to whom thei gafe the venyme for to drynke, wheron he
deyed, and for that cause oonly that he repreved alle hem that dede worship the
ydolles, as it is more pleynly declared before. And in the seid town of Stragye he
ordeigned a place where that he helde his scooles and there he taughte many
goode thinges to the people, and dede his peyne for to do wele to the people, as
for to gefe almes to the poore, and to mary the poure maydens and orphelynes.
And he gaf also to alle hem that had luste to studye of what estate or degree that he
was of. And also he bilded and made newe the seide towne of Stragye, and there he
stablisshed lawes that kinges helde hem in grete worship and in grete reverence,
him and alle his dedis. And aftir he deyed in the sixty-fourth yere of his age, and
the people of the seid towne of Stragye token his boonys and leide hem in a tombe
in the place where thei holde here counsellys for the weel of the towne, and as wel
for the grete goodnesse that was in him as for the love that thei loved him. And
thei dede him so grete reverence and had so grete affeccion in that toombe where
his boonys laye [fol. 36r] inne, that whanne thei were in any perplexitee of any grete thing,
thei wolde go and dispute theire matiers as nygh as thei myghte to the saide
toombe, and there thei wolde abyde unto the tyme that thei knew the trouthe of
here matiers. And thei hadde suche an hoope that yf thei helde here counsell nygh
the toombe where as Arystotles bonys laye inne, as it is seide before, that here
wittes shulde be the gretter and the more subtyle to here undirstandinge. And thus
thei dede for the more worship to him aftir his deth and to shewe also that thei
were right sory for the losse of so good a man. And this same Arystotle had many
kinges and many kingis sones to his dyssiples, and composed wel an hundred
bookes, of the whiche we have at this tyme eightene of logyk, and eight of nature,
the booke of etyques, the booke of polletyques, the booke of metaphesyk, whiche
is named Detheologye, and the booke of the engynes of geometrye. And Plato
repreved him for he wrote his connynge in bookes, to whome Arystotle aunsuerd
and seide, in excusynge himself, that it was a sure and notable thynge for hem that
loved science, for thei shulde lose nothinge that thei had lerned, but thei shulde
fynde it agen in here bookes: "wherfore it is good that we make bookes, by the
whiche men maye lerne all maner scyence, for whanne that mannys mynde is loste,
it maye be recoverd agene by the meane of bookes. And sothely, thei that haten
science shulle nat proufyte therinne, though so be that thei have bookes; and
though thei have bookes, yet thei sette nat by hem, and so thei departen wors and
with lasse connynge thanne before. And I have ordeigned my bookes by suche
condycions that the wysemen shulde undirstonde hem, and the ignorauntes for to
have litil profyte." And Arystotle helde gladly in his hande an instrumente of the
sterres; and Arystotle seide: "He that hadde a good name in this worlde, and the
grace of God with all, ought nat to aske none othir thinge." And seide to Alysaun-
dir: "Redresse thiself firste, for yf thu be nat wele redressed, with gret peyne thu
shalt redresse thi people; and yf thu be in erroure, thu mayste nat wele governe.
The passynge feble man maye nat wele comforte othir men, and there maye no
man wele redresse anothir but he first begynne at himself, and therfore yf thu wilt
putte aweye the fylth of othir men, clene thiself firste, or ellis thu shalt be as the
seeke leche that can nat heele himself nor othir men that bene in the same mal-
adye." And seith: "That thinge that redresseth beste the nedys of the people is for
to have a rightwose lorde. And that thynge that [fol. 37r] moste hurtes hem is to have a
corupte lorde." And seide: "Kepe thee from covetyses, for yf thu thenke wele
theron, thu shalt fynde that it is nat lowable for to have worship in this worlde and
shame in anothir, for this worlde is but an hous of passage for to go into anothir.
And yf thu wilt be ryche, suffyse thee with that that thu haste, for that man maye
never be ryche that holdeth him nat contente with that that he hathe, be it never
so litil." And seith: "The cursednesse of this worlde is good to knowe, for there
maye no man be worshipped withoute dysworshippynge of other." And seith: "If
it happened that of an evel dede there felle to thee some maner of good, or of a
good dede there felle to thee some maner of harme, yet loke thu eschewe allewaies
the evel dede, for thu shalte ellis be begiled at the ende. But loke thu do wel
alleweyes, for at the ende thu shalt fare the bettir." And seith: "What thynge that
is preysed upon thee, loke thu blame it nat upon anothir man." And seith: "Loke
thu do to no man othirwise thanne thu woldeste he dede to thee. Refreyne thi will.
Eschewe covetyse. And loke thu hate no man. Kepe thee from envye. And yf any
man erre ageyns thee, yet for all that have him nat in thyne indignacioun, for there
maye no man eschewe errour and kepe thee from suche covetyses that shulde em-
peche thi reasoun and destroye trouth." And seith: "Loke thu use nat thi lyfe in
suche thingis as bene unprofitable, and also put thee in the fellaship of wysemen,
and studye in here bokes. Flee leesynges, for the lyers lyen not but for that thei
recche not of reasoun of here soulle; and the leest harme that may come to a lyer
is that no man wole beleeve that he seyth; and yet natwithstandinge, a man maye
bettir kepe himself frome a theef thanne from a lyer." And seith: "The hertys of
goode men accorden soone togedir, lyke as the reyne is lightly medled with the
watir of the see; and the hertes of evel folk accorden nat lightly, though so be that
thei be alweye togedre, lyke as beestis maken moche of othir and soudeynly thei
fallen at debate." And thanne he taughte Alisaundir, seyenge to him: "The firste
thinge that ye shal do: establisshe youreself, and that ye geve nat youre goodes
awey but to hem that loven and sewen trouthe. And loke ye do rygorous peynes to
hem that loven falsheed and dothe harme to othir folkes." And seith: "Yf thu have
a dowte in anythinge, loke thu have recours to the wyse men; and yf the wyse men
dyspreyse thee, loke thu be nat wrothe therfore, for there is no man but he hath
somme vyce, and yet he hath many othir goode vertues, and therfore a man shulde
nat lette for to aske hym counsell." [fol. 37v] And seide to Alysaunder that "to moche people
wole hurte thee and annoye thee, for thei maye nat helpe thee." And seith: "Justyce
is a mesure that God hath stablisshed upon the erthe, by the whiche the feeble
bene defended fro the myghty and the true man fro the lyer. And he is right a
grete foole and foulle deceyved that wil dyspreise that noble dysposicion." And seith:
"The wyse man knoweth the ignoraunte for he was oon himself somtyme, but
the ignoraunt was never wyse, and therfore he myght never knowe wysedame."
And seide to Alisaundir: "Knowe right wele that all besynesses of the reame that
longen to thee be but litill; and yf thei be generall withoute comyttinge to other,
and yf so be that thu commytte the grete thingis to othir men and takest upon thee
the smale thingis, thu shal parceyve right wele that in tyme to come grete hurte
shal falle unto thee or ellis sooner thanne thu wenyste." And seith: "Lyberalté is for
to gefe to the nedy people or ellis to him that hathe deserved it, or to him that
is in wille for to deserve it. And loke that the gyfte be meetely aftir the power of the
gever, for he that geveth over his possibilité oughte to be called a wastoure and not
liberal." And seith: "Wysedame is as a thinge that defendith the soulle and the
myrroure of reasoun. O what he is wele at ease that enforceth himself for to gete
it, for it is the fundacioun and the roote of alle noble thingis. And by it we maye
have the good ende and to kepe oureself from alle grete turmentis." And seide: "O
Alysaundir, if thu wilt use thi lordship otherwise thanne thu oughteste, envye shal
falle upon thee and of envye shal come lesynges, and of lesynges hate, and of hate
injustyce, of injustyce injurye, of injurye bataile, and by bataile the lawe shal
perysshe, and thi possessyons shull be loste. But and thu use thi lordship as thu
aughteste, trouthe shal growe in thy reame and by trouthe shal come justice, and
from justice love, and frome love grete geftys and sureté, by the whiche the feyth
shal be mayntened and thy people encresed." And seith: "Ho that stablissheth his
reame to be servaunt of the lawe, he shulde regne; and ho that seweth the lawe, it
maketh him to encrese." And seith: "A kinge shulde be of grete courage, and
thenke what shal falle of the ende of his dedis, curteys and debonayre. He shulde
also refreyne his wrath where that him oughte to do it, and to shewe it there as it
is nedfull; and kepe him also from covetyses, [fol. 38r] to leve truly and to governe him as
nygh as he maye aftir his predecessours, and to ordeigne for his people lyke as thei
be and as thei have deserved; and defende and kepe the lawe and the feyth, to do
wele at alle tymes and to be stronge. And yf the strengthe of the body faile him yet
lete him have the strengthe of courage, by the whiche he shal be assured in alle his
nedfull thinges and at the leste weye that same strengthe shulde suffyse him." And
seith: "That kinge that governeth himself wel by his wysedame is worthy to have
grete laude." And seide: "O Alysaundir, gete thee ricchesses that wole nat passe
aweye, a lyfe that wole nat chaunge, a reame that maye nat be take awey, thinges
that bene perpetuell. And loke thu be petevous, and nat oonely suche pitee as maye
cause thee for to have harme therby, but loke thu do punycioun on hem that have
deserved it withoute dyfferrynge. Laboure for to fortefye the lawe, for in that is the
drede of a lorde. And whanne thu mayste take vengeaunce of thyne enemye, loke
thu deferre it not unto anothir tyme, for the statis of this worlde chaungen sou-
deynly." And seith: "Thu oughtest nat to hate him that seith trouthe, nor tempte
nat him that kepith his feythe." And seith: "Stablysshe the feithe in the begynnynge of
thi regne, and it is bettir that thu amende and corecte aftir the exsample of thi
predecessours thanne thi successours shulde amende it in exsample of thee." And
seith: "Worship the goode folkis, and by that thu mayste gete the love of thi people.
And sette nat all thyne entente on this worlde wherinne thu shalte nat longe abyde.
Worship sapience and fortefye it in goode maners by goode maisters, by dyssiples,
and by scolers; honoure hem and helpe to paye her dispence, and holde hem of
thyne housholde lyke as thu seest that they have profyted in science, and thu shalte
fynde that grete worshippe and profyte shal come to thee therfore." And seith: "He
is of grete corage and of good dyscrecion and of a true feythe that taketh paciently
his adversytees, for oon can nat knowe a man in his prosperitees." And seith: "Thu
shuldeste thenke that the moste feble of thyne enemyes is more stronge thanne
thiself." And seith: "Thu shuldest as wel cherysshe thi knyghtes in tyme of peas as
in tyme of were, for yf thu wilte nat please hem nor sette by hem in tyme of peas,
they wole quyte thee wel ynough in tyme of werre, whanne thu shalt have neede
unto hem." And seith: "The gretteste proufyte that thu mayste do to thi reame is
for to putte awey the evel people and to rewarde wele the good people." And seith:
"That man is of evel condycioun that taketh none [fol. 38v] heede but to the vyces of othir
men, and that preyseth himself in dyspreysinge othir folkes." And seith: "It is bettir
to deye worshipfully thanne for to lefe in shame." And seith: "The wysedame of a
man that is of poure lynage is worshipfull, and the foly of him that is of grete lyn-
age is the grettest shame that maye be, and covetyse is the thing that moste taketh
awey the name of gentilnesse." And seith: "A good governoure shulde take his
people as his kynne, and his kynne as his frendes, and not as his thresoure or his
heritage, and delyte himself in that that he hath of his people rightwosly, and nat
of that that he hathe by vyolence." And seith: "There shulde no man be ashamed
for to do justyce." And seithe: "If the kinge be nat rightwose, he nys not kinge, but
a vyolente man and a raptour." And seith: "The evell folkes obeyen for feere, and
the goode obeyen by her goode dedis, and whanne a man knoweth these two
maner of peple, a man shulde do wele to the goode folkes and chastyse rigorously
the evel people." And seith: "Thyne angre shulde nat be to sharpe ne to lighte."
And seide in a pystel whiche he sente to Alysaundyr that the kinges bene wor-
shipped for thre maner causes, that is to seye: by instituciouns of goode lawes, by
conquestis of regyons, and of landes that bene deserte for to fylle hem with people.
And he wrote also to Alysaundir that he shulde nat at all tymes correcte the people
with rygour, for the people maye nat at alle tymes kepe hemself oute of defaute.
Wherfore a man shulde at somme tyme pardone here trespasses; and yf so be that
a man muste nedys do punycioun, a man shulde shewe that he were constreyned
in maner for to redresse it, and nat to shewe that he doth it vengeably. And he
sawe a man whiche had his hande kutte of for a thefte that he had done, and
thanne he seide: "For because that he toke awey othir mennys thinges, thei have
taken awey that was his." And seith: "How shulde oon foole love anothir whanne
he can nat love himself?" And seith: "Thu mayste nat be bettir loved of thi people
ne to have thi lordship for to endure thanne for to do wel to thi people, for yf thu
greeve hem and hurte hem though so be that thu be lorde over here bodyes, yet
shalte nat thu be lorde over her courages. And knowe right wele that it is grete per-
yll for a man to wrath his people in many maners, for he shal nat be wel beloved
of hem." And seith: "He is right an happy man that can chastyse himself by othir
men." And seith: "Fortefye youre soulles and [fol. 39r] departe you from thes covetyses
that destroyen the feble coragis." And seith: "There is nothinge that maketh a man
lasse worthy thanne to make his avaunte of the goode dedis that he hath done."
And somme seide unto him: "What is the cause amonge you wyse men that ye be
nat wrothe whanne any man wole teche you?" He aunsuered and seide: "For we
take it for a profitable thinge." And seith: "He that hath no power for to do wele
yet at the leest weye lette himself from doynge evel." And seide to his dyssiples:
"Loke ye have foure eeres, of the whiche lete tweyne of hem be redy for to here
these thinges that profyten, and the tothre tweyne for to forsake the thinges that
be nat profitable." And thei asked him what was the moste profytable thinge that
myght be to the world. He aunsuerd and seide: "The dethe of evell folkes." And
seith: "A man maye never knowe a persoone so wele as whanne he is in his gret
lordship and myghte." And Arystotle seith: "Of alle thinges in the worlde the
lighteste thinge is moste easyest for to beere but oonly connynge, for the more that
a man hathe therof, the lighter he shal bere it." And thei asked him what was the
moste covenable thinge for a dyscrete man to have. He aunsuerd and seide: "These
thinges that leven with him yf he escaped oute of the perell of the see naked." And
seith: "Of alle connynge a man shulde chese the beste, lyke as the bee chesith oute
the beste thinge of the floure." He hadde a place whiche was his enherytaunce,
whiche he put to the rule of othre folkes, for he wolde nat come there himself, and
thei asked him whi he wolde nat go see his lyfelode. He aunsuerd and seide: "For
he that moste ofte vesiteth his places is moste oftentymes wrothe." And seith: "The
tunge of a foole is the keye of his secretes." And seide to oon that was slowe to
lerne: "If thu wilte nat take peyne upon thee for to lerne, thu shalt have the peyne
as he that knoweth nat whiche is moche gretter thanne the tothir." And seide to
oon of his dyssiples: "Loke thu bewar that thu fellaship nat with that man that
knoweth nat himself." And seith: "Thei that bene enclyned at alle tymes and
abandoune hemself unto vyces maye never resceyve encrece ne profyte in science."
And seith: "If thu wilt gefe unto thi body all his willes and lustes, it shal be the
wors for the body in his helth and othir thinges, and the soulle shal falle unto
perpetuel dampnacioun." And seith: "Ho that is enclyned uttirly to fornycacioun,
at the ende he shal have no worship therof." And seith: "A man that is joieful, it is
grete peyne to make him wrothe, and a liberal man [fol. 39v] maye nat be envyous, ne a
covetouse man shal never be ryche." And seith: "A man is preved by his dedis lyke
as the golde is tryed by force of the fyre." And oon of his dyssiples compleyned
unto him upon oon of his fellawes and seide he hadde done hym wronge, to
whome he aunsuerd and seide: "I wol nat beleve thi tale oonly agenste thi fellawe,
for I wol nat beleve his tale agen thee." And seith: "In lyke wise as the reyne maye
nat proufyte unto the corne that is sowen upon the stone, knowe right wele that in
lyke wyse the studye of a foole maye nat prouffyte." And seith: "The tunge of a man
shewith his wysedame and his foly." And seith: "Experyence correcteth a man and
techeth a man to leve wele." And seith: "Wysedame shewith faire and honestely the
rycchesse of a ryche man and hydeth the poverté of a poure man." And thei asked
him what was good language and speche. He ansuerd and seide: "For to speke but
litill, and that," he seide, "shulde be spoken with grete reasoun and able for to be
allowed." And he wrote to Alysaundir: "Ye seeme to be a noble and a myghty
kinge, and I knowe wele ye be so, and yet ye shal be gretter with that that ye wole
ordeigne youreself to governe youre people truly, for yf ye do so, thei wole obbeye
you the more. And yf ye wole take aweye her goodes and leve hem so litill that it
maye unneth suffyse hem to leve upon, ye shal be lorde of a poure people, and ye
shal be lykened to him that loveth bettir to governe the beestis thanne the men.
And there maye nat be a more uncovenable thinge to a prynce thanne to coveyte
the goodes of his people." And thei asked him in what thinge a man shulde holde
his peas inne though so were that it were true. He aunsuerd and seide that a man
shulde nat comende himself. And seith: "A litil trouthe is good, for ho that ableth
himself to trouthe, it shal falle the more unto him." And seith: "Reasoun maketh
man to surmounte alle othir beestis, wherfore and a man lacke reasoun he is a
beest." And seith: "Amonge alle thinges the newe bene beste, excepte love -- for
the elder that love is, the bettir it is." And oon whiche was called Abraquis, lorde
of sciences, asked him what maner thinge shuld he lerne firste that wolde gete
wysedame. And he aunsuered that he shulde lerne firste that science that shulde
governe the soulle, for because that it is perpetuel, and more noble withoute any
comparison thanne anythinge that we have. And [fol. 40r] thei asked him how that the
soulle myght gete wysedame. He ansuerd and seide: "In lyke wyse as the seeke man
maketh the phesycyan by his sekenesse, and as the blynde man undirstandeth the
colours by hem that seen hem." And oon asked him how maye a soulle knowe
himself. He aunsuerd and seide: "Whanne a soulle lacketh wisdome, he shal nat
knowe himself, nor none othir, lyke as a sighte withoute light that maye nat see
himself nor none othir." And seith: "Alle thinges have propirtees, and the propirté
of dyscrecioun is to chese the goode thinges." And seith: "The lordes have goten
by her studye and by her laboure for to escape the grete perilles whiche causeth
hem to come to good ende, and thes thingis that be geten with delytes and sportes
come to a smal ende. And ye maye see comounly thees townes that good laboure
is inne bene wele replenysshed of people and wele holden up; and thees townes
that bene full of vyces fallen to destruccioun." And seith: "Haste of spekinge mak-
eth men for to erre many tymes." And seith: "I have grete merveyle how he that a
man seith wel by withouten cause can accept it, and also how he that men seye evel
by withoute cause can be wrothe." And seith: "Men have in gretter cheertee that
thing that is dere bought, or ellis goten with moche peyne, thanne that thing that
cometh lightly to a man and withouten peyne." And seith: "Loke ye be nat lyke the
bultynge cloth that casteth oute fro hym alle the meele and floure, and kepith
himself the branne." And seith: "A man shulde nat gefe a childe the governaunce
of the people, nor to him that knoweth nat the occupaciouns of this world, nor to
him that hath grete joye in covetyses, nor to him that wole do his dedis withoute
deliberacioun, nor to him that is to vengeable." And seith: "There is no difference
betwene a childe of age and a childe of maners; what age that ever he be of for the
condycions of men be shewed by here werkes and nat by the tyme." And seith: "It
is nedful to a man yf he wole be goode that he be abled therto as for to knowe
trouthe and for to do it in dede or ellis that he lerne it by anothir, for of himself
he maye nat understande it. And he that wole nat lerne it by another maye never
be good." And seith: "The goodnesse is devysed in thre maners: the firste is to the
body, the secunde is to the soull, the thirde is withoute the body. And the moste
noble is the goodnesse of the soulle, the whiche goodnesse appereth in doynge [fol. 40v]
goode dedis, and in usynge of that goodnesse is founden the verrey trouthe of sci-
ence." And seith: "Wysedame is founden in man by longe lernynge, and goodnesse
cometh by good custume." And seith: "We oughte to knowe the signes that the
condycions of men shewen by the dilectaciouns withoute forthe whiche shewen by
here dedis, for he that absteyneth him oonly from his pleasaunce and fro the
bodily dilectaciouns, he aughte to be called a man wele attempred. And he that
absteyneth himself from dilectaciouns and is sory therfore shulde be called am-
bycious, and so of othir thinges." Ande seith: "There bene many that knowen the
goode maners and done hem nat, and thei resemble the seeke folkes that asken
counsell of the leeches and do nat aftir hem, and lyke as here bodyes ben ferre
from helthe, so bene the soulles ferre from blessednesse." And seith: "To do wele
is a thinge that man hath neede of to lerne, and yet it is somwhat peynefull for to
come therto. But for to do evel, men come lightly to it, for he seith to sheete aferre
at a marke is but a lite thinge, but it is ful harde for to hitte it; and in many maners
we maye be evell, but we maye nat be goode but in oone." And seith: "The lacke
of connynge is cause of evel, for many erren in usinge of her werkes that thei
shulde do by ignoraunce, for thei wote never whanne thei do wele nor whanne thei
do evell." And seith: "Olde men loven togedre but children done nat, for the olde
mennys delytes bene gretely even and the yonge dyfferren in many maners." And
seith: "The accomplesshemente of felycité of man is for to gete him frendes, for a
man aloone maye never have felicité in himself, for the perfeccioun of felicité is to
do wele to other. And therfore he that hath an indignacioun of the goode deedis
that bene done by othir folkes is altogedir oute of felicité." And seith: "He hathe
neede to frendes that hath gretely for to do, be it wele or be it evel, for yf it go evell
he hathe nede of helpe of his frendes; and yf it go wele it is necessarye that he
make joye and solace with his frendes." And seith: "Ho that loveth God truly hath
wysdame, and he that hathe wysedame and dothe the dedis theraftir is beloved of
God and is full redy to do wele to him agen." And seith: "The evell folkes susteyne
the perilles by the force of here bodyes, and the goode suffren the perilles by the
force of here soulle, for the wysdame of the goode men is nat in the streyngth of
here [fol. 41r] handes, of here armes, or in here othir membres, which is the streyngthe of
othir dombe beestis, but the goode pacience of the soulle withstandeth gladly the
grete perilles of coveityses and othir delites in full hope for to have a good ende."
And wrote to Alysaundir, seyng in this wise: "Thu oughteste wele to obbeye the
worldly thinges of God, for he hathe geve thee that thu woldest have, and that
thinge that thu haste desired of him." And seith: "Knowynge is lyfe, and ignor-
aunce is deth. And therfore he that knoweth is alyve, for he undirstandeth that he
dothe, and he that knoweth nat is deed, for he undirstandeth nothinge that he
dothe." And seith: "Men maye nat undirstande withoute enformacion of dysci-
plyne, lyke as here sight maye nat see withoute lighte the schappes of thingis." And
seith: "The longe passinge of tyme maketh a mannes dedis olde and defaceth here
traces, and thanne there abideth nothinge but good renowne and love that abideth
in the hertis of here successours, for here goode dedis that thei dede in here dayes.
And therfore enforce thee for to conquere thee a good name, whiche at no tyme
shal faille, and for that good renown thi noblesse shal endure." And seith: "The
foole is as a man that falleth in a deep watir, and yf he ley honde upon thee, he
wole drowne thee with him; and yf thu flee fro him, thu arte seure." And seith:
"Lesynge is an infirmyté of the soule, for by the meane of reasoun he shulde nat
lye." And seith: "The most stedfaste wyseman is he that wole nat pronounce his
matiers unto the tyme that he hathe wele undirstande hem. And the beste spekinge
man is he that spekith nat unto the tyme that he be wel purveied of his language.
And the beste werkeman is he that wole nat begynne his werkes til that he hath
wele advysed and discussed hem in his herte. And there is none that oughte to
thenke more thanne the wiseman, for it is right nedful that he knowe his matiers
right wele, or he be wel acerteigned in hem." And seith: "The men bene more en-
clyned to coveityses thanne to reasoun, for coveityse is accompanyed with hem in
her childhode, and reasoun cometh nat to hem unto the tyme that thei come to
parfite age." And seith: "The children dispreysen and haten here maisters for, at
that tyme that the maister techeth hem, thei conceyve nat the goodnesse that maye
come to hem therby, but thei feele oonly the laboure of the lernynge." And he
called Alisaundre [fol. 41v] and asked him questions of the governaunce of the lordes and
of the people, to whome Alisaundir aunsuerd right wele. And yet natwithstanding
that, Aristotle bete him with a rodde. And thanne somme asked him what was the
cause that he beete him so withouten any trespasse. He aunsuerd and seide that
"this childe is ordeigned for to be a grete kinge. And for to kepe him lowely, ther-
fore, I beete him, for he wol ful hastily be right proude." And seith: "If thu maiste
redresse any man, loke thu do it as thu woldest do to thyne owen self." And a
yonge man asked him whi he was so poure, to whome he aunsuered: "My poverté
offended me never, nor dede me never harme, but thyne hath done thee harme,
and yet wole do thee moche more." And seith: "The worlde is lyke a gardeyne,
wherof the dyches be lykened to realmes; and the realmes be maintened by the
lawes whiche the kinge hath stablysshed. The kinge is mayntened by his knyghtes,
the knyghtes bene governed by money, the money cometh of the people, the
people is governed by justice. And so is all the world."
Go To 14. Alexander